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Thailand: Man Sentenced for Insulting Royal Family

(Apr. 8, 2013) On March 28, 2013, Akachai Hongkangwan, a 37 year-old Thai man, was given a sentence of imprisonment for three years and four months, in addition to a fine of 66,666 baht (about US$2,300). While the fine was for violations of copyright law, the prison term resulted from his being found guilty of violating article 112 of Thailand’s Criminal Code, which specifies that defaming, insulting, or threatening the King, Queen, heir-apparent, or regent may be punished with a sentence of three to fifteen years in prison. (Sydney Normil, Thai Man Sentenced for Royal Insult, PAPER CHASE NEWSBURST (Mar. 28, 2013); Criminal Code B.E. 2499, 1956 (unofficial translation as amended up to 2003) (last visited Jan. 23, 2013).)

Hongkangwan had been arrested on March 10 at a protest in the capital city of Bangkok. He had been selling videos containing part of an Australian program from 2010 that was considered insulting to the royal family. (Normil, supra.)

Following a similar case in January 2013, a number of human rights spokespersons, including representatives of the international organizations Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay, criticized Thailand and its use of article 112, also known as the lèse majesté law. (Constance A. Johnson, Thailand: Journalist Sentenced for Royal Insult, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Jan. 25, 2013).)